How to make traditional Scottish stovies is something about which, not only Scottish cooks and chefs, but also Scottish historians may well be prepared to argue. This is for the simple reason that traditional Scottish stovies is more of a concept rather than a hard and fast recipe.
Traditional Scottish stovies came about when the masters of households used to allow servants to take leftovers from the kitchen home to feed themselves and their families. In basic form, this would consist merely of the fat that was the drippings from the roast, the stock which was formed from the roast, potatoes and perhaps onions. The potatoes - and onions, if applicable - would be firstly lightly fried in the dripping and then the stock would be added and they would boil in the stock to finish cooking.
Occasionally, the servants’ masters would supplement the offerings with some pieces of meat which were left over from lunch or the previous days’ roast and these pieces of meat - usually beef or lamb - would also be incorporated in traditional Scottish stovies, clearly enhancing the recipe and the meal quite considerably. This is the version which is probably most often referred to as traditional Scottish stovies.
Over a period of time, traditional Scottish stovies of course advanced in terms of its preparation and eventually ceased to be perceived as a poor man’s food. It has long since become a firm favourite with the people of Scotland and is one of those dishes of which most families have a favourite recipe. On occasion, the stovies will even be baked in the oven as opposed to simply being cooked on the hob, giving the potatoes which are layered on top a crisp, burnished finish.
Stovies is also something which has progressed to being prepared with meats other than beef or lamb. Chicken has been used to prepare a version of stovies, as has corned beef. Perhaps the version that will cause the most confusion outside Scotland, however, is when stovies are prepared using Lorne sausages.
Lorne sausages are a type of sausage unique to Scotland. They are different from all other sausages in that the sausage meat is compressed in to large blocks and then sliced, as opposed to being squeezed in to skins. Stovies are prepared with Lorne sausage simply by placing the sausages in a stewing pan, along with slices of potato and onion and adding sometimes stock but more often than not, simply hot water.
Traditional Scottish stovies can therefore take many forms and, unusually among recipes, still technically qualify to be classed as same.